News (USA)

Maryland House of Delegates approves historic marriage equality bill

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland’s House of Delegates on Friday evening approved by a thin margin a measure to legalize same-sex marriage, moving the state closer to becoming the eighth state to offer full marriage equality for its gay and lesbian citizens.

The state Senate in next to consider the bill — that chamber handily passed a similar bill last year, and is widely expected to do so again.

Today’s passage in the House sets the stage for the measure to be signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), a supporter of marriage equality who has lobbied fervently for the bill, and who has made it a legislative priority for this year.

“Today, the House of Delegates voted for dignity,” O’Malley posted on Twitter. He later added, “Love is an inalienable right.”

The vote in Maryland was greeted by cheers from a packed chamber gallery in Annapolis, and came shortly after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed a similar bill approved in that state’s legislature.

The official vote was 71-67, but reports indicate that Del. John Bohanan also intended to vote for the bill, but was not recorded by the voting system. The vote count reflecting Bohanan’s vote would be 72-67.

Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery County) — who in 2010 raised massive amounts of LGBT support and fundraising money as a result of his close ties with gay Democratic activists and his pro-same-sex marriage position — voted against the bill.

The bill includes an amendment approved by the House from Delegate Tiffany Alston (D-Prince George), who previously opposed to the bill — a move opponents suggested secured her vote. Alston’s amendment would prohibit the law from going into effect until any litigation related to a potential voters’ referendum on the measure is processed.

“Today, we took a giant step toward marriage equality becoming law — and we are in this position due to the unwavering leadership and resolve of Governor O’Malley, Speaker (Michael) Busch and our legislative allies,” Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.

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